|Publication number||US6053469 A|
|Application number||US 08/948,263|
|Publication date||Apr 25, 2000|
|Filing date||Oct 9, 1997|
|Priority date||Nov 8, 1995|
|Publication number||08948263, 948263, US 6053469 A, US 6053469A, US-A-6053469, US6053469 A, US6053469A|
|Inventors||Steven M. Burgarella|
|Original Assignee||General Scanning, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (19), Referenced by (4), Classifications (4), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation of Ser. No. 08/555,038, filed Nov. 8, 1995, now abandoned.
This invention relates to mounts for optical components. Particularly, it relates to alignable supports for mirrors on laser tables.
The conduct of optical measurements often requires the precise alignment of optical components such as mirrors and gratings. Typically, a component is secured to a base by an alignment mechanism which aligns the component and clamps it in place. This approach requires that each optical component have a dedicated alignment mechanism, each entailing expensive precision adjustment components such as micrometers. This multiplicity of precision adjustment instruments significantly affects the cost of the system in which the component is incorporated.
The principal object of the present invention is, accordingly, to provide an inexpensive method and apparatus for aligning and securing an optical component to a base.
The present invention separates the clamping arrangement from the alignment mechanism. This separation allows the component to be fixed in place by a small, low-cost part while the costly precision adjustment mechanism resides in a removable, reusable fixture.
The clamping arrangement of the invention includes a support with a spherical surface that rests in an indentation in the base. A fixture comprising the alignment mechanism removably fastens onto the base. The fixture engages the support so as to allow alignment of the component by operation of adjustment components in the fixture. A simple clamp secures the support to the base in the desired orientation after alignment, and the fixture is then removed from the base.
The foregoing discussion will be understood more readily from the following detailed description of the invention, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIGS. 1A-1B are isometric views of alignment and clamping fixtures used to mount a mirror on a base in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 2 is a section along line 2-2' of FIG. 1A.
FIG. 3 is a section along line 3-3' of FIG. 1B.
It will appreciated that, for purposes of illustration, these figures are not necessarily drawn to scale.
FIG. 1A shows the front face of an alignment fixture 10, which is positioned to align a mirror 12 mounted on a base 14. The mirror is secured to the base 14 by a clamp 16 which applies a clamping force to a mirror support 18 to which the mirror 12 is affixed. The support 18 has a spherical surface that rests in an indentation 20 in the base 14. The fixture 10 is temporarily fastened by bolts 21 onto the base 14. The fixture cooperates with the support 18 so that micrometer adjusters 24 and 26 can be used to adjust the orientation of the support 18 with respect to two mutually perpendicular axes. After thereby achieving the desired alignment of the mirror 12, the support 18 is locked in place by tightening the clamp 16 by means of a bolt 28 which passes through the clamp 16 and into the base 14. The fixture 10 is then removed from the base 14.
As shown in FIG. 1B, the fixture 10 comprises a case 30 having vertical recess 32 in its rear face. A plate 34, secured by bolts 36, retains a column 38 in the recess 32. As described below, a peg 40, affixed to the case 30, extends through a vertical slot 42 in the column 38, thereby permitting vertical translation of the column 38 as well as its rotation about the peg 40.
With reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, the micrometer adjuster 24 is threaded into the upper end of the column 38, and its tip bears against the peg 40. A bias spring 44, located in a bore 48 opening into the slot 42, bears against the peg and thus exerts a downward force on the column 38. Adjustment of the micrometer adjuster 24 thus positions the column 38 vertically with respect to the peg 40 and, therefore, the case 30 and base 14.
More specifically, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, a fork 50 includes a shaft 52 that extends upwardly into a bore in the lower end of the column 38. The shaft 52 has a circumferential groove 54 that accommodates the tip of a spring plunger 56. This arrangement fixes the fork 50 vertically with respect to column 38 while permitting rotation around the column's longitudinal axis. The lower end of the fork 50 has two prongs 58 spanned by a pin 60. The pin 60 passes through a slot 62 in an arm 64 to pivotably join the arm 64 to the fork 50. The fork 50 and arm 64 function together to convert linear movement of the column 38 to angular movement of the arm 64. With reference to FIG. 2, the arm 64 extends through an opening 68 in the front face of the case 30, and terminates in a shaft 66 which retractably engages a bore 70 in the support 18. Adjustment of the micrometer adjuster 24 to vertically displace the fork 50 thus changes the orientation of the shaft 66 and causes rotation of the support 18 about a first (horizontal) axis parallel to the plane of the mirror 12 and to the base 14.
FIG. 3 shows the micrometer adjuster 26, extending through a side wall 72 of case 30 so that its tip extends into the recess 32. The tip of a spring plunger 74 biases the column 38 against the tip of the adjuster 26. Adjustment of the micrometer adjuster 26 pivots the column 38 about the peg 40 and thereby displaces the lower end of the fork 50 horizontally. The horizontal displacement of the fork 50 changes the distance between the pin 60 and the mirror support 18. The alignment fixture 10 accommodates this change by adjusting the position of the pin 60 in the slot 62 and/or the extent to which the shaft 66 penetrates the bore 70. The horizontal displacement changes the orientation of the shaft 66 about the longitudinal axis of the column 38 and thus causes rotation of the support 18 about a second (substantially vertical) axis, perpendicular to the first axis. Because of the slight vertical movement of the fork 50 that occurs during this horizontal alignment, it is preferable to first adjust the horizontal orientation and then perform the vertical alignment described above.
After the mirror 12 has been optically aligned as described above, it is secured in position by tightening the bolt 28 down on the clamp 16. Movement of the pin 60 with respect to the slot 62 permits the shaft 66 to be completely retracted from the bore 70 and thus frees the support 18 of the fixture 10. Finally, the bolts 21 are unscrewed and the alignment fixture 10 is removed from the base 14.
The invention is compatible with several geometries of the indentation 20. Rather than a portion of a sphere, the indentation may be cylindrical, for example, or the frustum of a cone or pyramid. For stable clamping, the contact points between the indentation 20 and the mirror support 18 should be arranged symmetrically about the point of contact between the clamp 16 and the support 18. Also, the entirety of the curved surface of support 18 need not belong to one sphere as shown in the figures. For example, a support having a spherical lower surface, resting in the indentation 20, of one radius and a spherical upper surface, in contact with the clamp 16, of a different radius, may be stably clamped if the two spheres defining the surfaces share the same center.
It will therefore be seen that the foregoing represents a highly advantageous approach to the alignment of optical components. The terms and expressions employed herein are used as terms of description and not of limitation, and there is no intention, in the use of such terms and expressions, of excluding any equivalents of the features shown and described or portions thereof, but it is recognized that various modifications are possible within the scope of the invention claimed.
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|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US7992835||May 21, 2009||Aug 9, 2011||Eastman Kodak Company||Kinematic mirror mount adjustable from two directions|
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|Aug 24, 2000||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: GSI LUMONICS LIFE SCIENCE TRUST, MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GENERAL SCANNING INC.;REEL/FRAME:011058/0947
Effective date: 20000809
|Oct 11, 2000||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: PACKARD INSTRUMENT COMPANY, INC., CONNECTICUT
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GSI LUMONICS LIFE SCIENCE TRUST;REEL/FRAME:011245/0449
Effective date: 20001001
|Nov 12, 2003||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Apr 26, 2004||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Jun 22, 2004||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20040425